Music Therapy in a Children’s Hospice
September 22, 2013
An insight into music therapy and a children’s hospice:
Children and young adults attend a children’s hospice when they have a life-limiting illness or disability – and it is an area of work which is close to my heart. Hospices are joyous, fun-filled places where children can be engaged in activity, have a break from the stresses of home and be looked after medically before their life ends, and where families can find support, comfort and joy before and after their child has died.
Music therapy has a special place in the hospice environment. I have found that children who are verbal request music therapy for several reasons – to have fun (!), to have 1:1 attention and support, to talk to a professional who is not in the hospice all day every day, to write songs either about their lives/families/favourite foods (Heinz tomato soup comes up often!!), and to improvise and feel freedom in what can be a confusing, difficult and often very oppressing time. For those who are aware, coming to terms with the end of their life can be highly distressing and also something that they do not wish to or do not know how to share. In the music, these intense feelings can be released – to quote a teenager that I improvised with last week ‘that was so simple….but that was so complex’.
Children that cannot communicate verbally may come to music therapy for other reasons. Music enables an individual who has no motor function to play through only the pattern of their breath – and this has produced profound effects! I often hear staff members stating ‘I had no idea she/he could ever respond in that way’ when a child reaches out and plays the chimes or sings with me when they do not normally respond vocally. Music has been clinically proven to reduce pain and staff often find that (possibly as a result) a child breathes more slowly and deeply during a music therapy session. Fun is again a major factor – after all children are still children regardless of the state of their health!
The work can be highly emotional and at times very difficult – but it is incredibly rewarding, life-affirming and absolutely wonderful always.
Any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.
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What our friends say about us
We use MusAbility for several of our clients who are currently, and have previously been through the medical negligence court system. MusAbility’s services are not only professional, timely and evidence-based in their clinical assessments, but the clients also show real developments in long-term work where many other health professionals declared none were possible. A truly inspirational team.
Medical Negligence Lawyer
Not only can we see the clear changes in behaviour for the children that attend music therapy…but it’s giving the staff new skills and techniques to work with the children that need a little extra support. Just brilliant.
Classroom Teacher, Mainstream School
It is absolutely fascinating to see how this child responds in music therapy…to be surrounded by verbal interaction, then be met in an environment when words are sometimes not used at all…it is incredibly impactive. I think it should be available to every child!
Support Assistant in Mainstream School
I have honestly never seen anything like it…music therapy reaches this child at such a profound level, we are in tears of joy every session, and their development visibly increases week to week.
Teaching Assistant, Specialist School
Some of the children in our school are that bit older…and they really struggle to engage both in the classroom and with staff on a 1:1 basis. Music therapy breaks down all boundaries. They love the sessions, and they think it’s so ‘cool’ that they are pushed to reach their potential…sometimes without even realising it!
Deputy Head Teacher, School for Children with Special Needs
Our music therapist is an integral part of our team. Not only do they engage clinically with the clients, but they also liaise with staff within the multi-disciplinary team…most importantly always putting the client first. We absolutely could not do without music therapy…and our clients wouldn’t allow it!